“Zombies aren’t the same as people,” Boden said, echoing my thoughts exactly. “They’re getting smarter, but they’re not rational. They can’t trick you or steal from you when you’re sleeping.”
“Well, I’m not sending him away,” Bishop said, her eyes shifting angrily between Boden and me. “If you think that’s what you need to do, you can go to tell him that he can go out there and freeze to death and get eaten by monsters.”
“That’s not what I’m saying,” I tried to tell her, but she’d already started stomping back to the fire to sit down next to Teddy. I looked up at Boden, who sighed loudly. “We’re not wrong.”
“I know,” he agreed. “But I don’t really want to kick him out, either. I’ll keep watch all night, and he can stay. But just one night.”
I nodded, because that was the best compromise we could make. Boden walked away and roughly pulled his shirt down from the line where it’d been drying. He pulled it on, then went over to talk to Serg.
Serg kept to himself, but I’m not sure if that eased my fears or made them stronger. I stayed close to Max and Stella and made sure to keep one eye on Serg.
That got harder to do once it got dark, because Boden put out the fire. The light would attract zombies. I stayed awake for a long time, lying on the gravel next to Max, but eventually my body gave out and fell asleep.
It didn’t feel like I’d been out that long when I felt someone roughly shaking me awake, and in a panicked voice, Max was saying, “Remy! Wake up.”
“What?” I sat up with a start, preparing to fight something, anything.
The rain had stopped, and the clouds must’ve parted, allowing light from the full moon to find its way under the bridge. It was still dark, but the light illuminated the silhouettes of people sleeping around me. I could see the outline of Boden, standing by the mouth of the underpass, but there didn’t appear to be any cause for alarm.
“What’s going on?” I asked, looking down at Max. He’d been sitting next to me, but he lay back down in the dirt.
“You were moaning in your sleep,” Max yawned, already settling back in to sleep. “It was freaking me out.”
“Yeah, she does that,” Daniels said. “You get used it after a while.”
He was lying beside Nolita, one arm draped over her. It was an affectionate, protective gesture, as if Daniels could protect her from anything.
The idea that I moaned in my sleep bothered me. I knew I had nightmares, though I tried my best not to remember them. I also knew that sometimes I cried in my sleep, because I’d wake up with tears drying on my cheeks.
But it scared me what I might say, that I might give something away that I’d much rather keep to myself.
“I moan in my sleep?” I asked Daniels, since Max had already fallen back to sleep, snoring softly. “Do I say anything?”
“Sometimes. Usually it’s just names, but other times …” He trailed off.
“Other times what?” I pressed.
He let out a deep breath. “Sometimes you say, ‘No, stop. Please. Stop.’” He paused and licked his lips. “That didn’t start until after you’d been in the quarantine for a while.”
I understood his hesitation about telling me. I may have volunteered for their experiments at the quarantine, but once they’d started cutting me open while I was still conscious, I’d begged them to stop. I’d pleaded with them while sobbing.
Daniels usually left before that. He’d never actually been present for a surgery, although he was the one who did my aftercare – cleaning my wounds, making sure I ate and drank, giving me IVs when I refused.
Once, after they’d removed my appendix, the pain had been excruciating. I didn’t think I would survive it. I’d lain curled up on my side, holding my stomach. The pain was so intense, I’d begun vomiting, which only made matters worse.
“Oh, Jesus, Remy.” Daniels had rushed over to me. He knelt down on the cot as I dry-heaved over the edge. “You’re going to rip your stitches.”
“I don’t care,” I said with tears streaming down my cheeks. “I hope I do. I hope I die.”
“You don’t mean that.” He pressed a cold washcloth against my forehead, which was searing hot from a fever. “If there’s one thing I know about you, it’s that you’re a survivor.”
“No.” I shook my head and swallowed hard to keep from throwing up. “I’m not. I can’t do this anymore.”
“It will be awhile before you have surgery again,” Daniels tried to reassure me.
He kept wiping at my face. I swatted his hand, trying to push it away, but I didn’t have the strength. Since I couldn’t push it away, I just grabbed his hand and held it, forcing him to look me in the eye.
“No, Daniels, I can’t do this. Please,” I begged him with tears in my eyes. “Please don’t make me go through that again. Kill me first. I can’t.”
He pursed his lips, then let go of my hand and stood up. “I’ll be right back.”
I didn’t know how long he was gone. I rolled onto my back and kicked at the wall. That only made my abdomen hurt worse, but by then, I was in so much pain, I could barely notice the fluctuations in it. It was intense, excruciating, and constant.
When Daniels came back, he was carrying a syringe. He sat down on the edge of my cot and reached for my arm, but I pulled it back from him.
“What is that?” I asked.
“It’ll make you sleep,” he said and tried to take my arm again, but I jerked it back.
“What?” I tried to sit up, but I couldn’t, so I just glared up at him. “You have something that can make me sleep, and you’re giving it to me after the surgery?”
“I’m sorry, Remy. If they knew I was giving it to you now, they’d put me in the stockades.”
“Why?” I demanded. “If you have medicine that can help my pain, why wouldn’t you give it to me?”
His eyes were sad and dark when he shook his head. “We only have a finite amount of pharmaceuticals. We know how to make some of them, but we’re not equipped to mass produce them, so we need to be careful with what we have.”
“And they don’t want to waste them on me, because I’m going to die anyway,” I said, finishing his thought. “I don’t matter.”